Start Up Blog

The evolution of employment

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 21, 2013

Hunter

Shepherd

Farmer

Craftsman

Employee

Projecteer

While the flow of jobs through history here clearly simplifies the reality, but there is no disputing the type and structure of work we do is in a constant state of flux.

Soon employers will realise they don’t actually need employees. They will work out the thing they actually need is tasks completed, projects managed and leadership provided. And in a connected world they won’t need to pay for people to do these things 5 days a week – especially when large amounts of that time paid for are unproductive.  What we need to remember is that companies pay people based on the value they deliver, not by the hours they are present. If a person cost X for 5 days work, but it really only takes 3 days to do, they the company would be happy to pay the equivalent of 4 days  for previous cost of the 5 days output. Especially when it reduces the overhead of carrying the employee. On average an employee costs twice their salary to carry. In a connected world roles for employees will fragment into pieces and projects purely because the balance sheet will demand it. When this does happen will happen and we will enter the age of the projecteer. And I truly believe this will be better for everyone. Projecteers we gain a greater revenue clip for their time given, and companies will save on cost for activities done.   In addition to this, neither party will be chained to each other mentally providing a more creative work life ecosystem.

So the question for all of us are:

How are we building our personal brand?

What are we developing our pinch hitting expertise in?

How can we create more value by being cross fertilised, nimble value merchants?

And how can companies connect with us?

We all about to become entrepreneurs whether we like it or not, best we get ready now. 

twitter-follow-me13

Most people I know…

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 17, 2013

… want to get rich so they don’t have to care about the company they work for, or the crappy project they are doing. Once they make bank they can do what really turns them on.

I used to be that guy.

Now I just do what really turns me on, and all of a sudden I don’t care so much about how many zeros are in my bank account.

My father once told me; “Regardless of how rich you are Steve, you can only eat 3 meals a day, lay your head on one pillow and enjoy the company of those around you. Money is an illusion. The art of becoming wealthy is actually knowing what it means.”

Needless to say my dad is the richest man I know.

So what we ought do, is not let the Industrial Complex redefine wealth on our behalf and make us live a life of postponing what we care about. Because once we can feed ourselves and have somewhere warm to live, the rest is in our minds.

twitter-follow-me13

Random Sunday night thoughts

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 28, 2013

I went for a run today and some ideas popped into my head. Every time I exercise I get new ideas (to me anyway) – they just come from no where. Non blog post micro ideas today, but possible bigger post ideas tomorrow. Rather than lose them, I thought I’d document them. Here they are:

  1. What goes in and out of our mouth determines how long we live, and how much we earn. The former excludes unintended accidents like being run over by a bus.
  2. People say that you need to be a go getter to find success. I feel like we need to be go givers. It feels back to front.
  3. Luxury is in a constant state of evolution. Luxury is both relative to the human condition and relative to our own circumstances. What I find a luxury at a given point in time rarely endures for me. (my current favourite is sleep)
  4. What we do after 10pm has a bigger impact on our tomorrow than what we do during business hours.
  5. Evolution is a tactical process, rather than a strategic one. Tactics of trial and error executed quickly or consistently over a long period of time yield better results than arduous planning. Most great strategies are written in hindsight to describe what happened, rather than what was planned.
  6. The depth and wealth of the eco system has a bigger impact on the well being of the cell, than the make up of the cell itself does.
  7. When it comes to business management, the hard stuff is soft and the soft stuff is hard.
  8. Time is the biggest investment we can make, because it’s the only one that can’t be earned back. Hence true wealth is measured in time not dollars.
  9. Many great inventions (including the wheel in some regions) started as kids toys. So why do many organisations have fun police on staff? I am now wondering if  there a list of practical inventions which started as kids toys?
  10. Why do so many companies who are under threat from the emerging digital landscape forget the first lesson in economics, the law of supply & demand? Eg: Local Australian newspapers seemed to forget that supply of news is now omnipresent. Price is a function of availability, so people wont pay for average and undifferentiated content.
  11. The two types of investments we can make are time & money, most people never get to the second type because they don’t put in enough of the first type.
  12. We are all entrepreneurs, but some people only have 1 big and important client (an employer). We’d all do better if we regarded all income as a part of the entrepreneurial process than a wage based one.

There were more, but this is all I can remember.

twitter-follow-me13

Value yourself

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 5, 2013

As the new year starts we all set goals and have ambitions to make it a year to remember – as we should. But sometimes we need simple philosophical shifts too. Small shifts that can have a dramatic impact. One of mine is to ‘value myself appropriately’. As startup entrepreneurs an important part of the process is to be a bootstrapper, to maximise the limited resources we have to gain the momentum we need. This often leads us to doing it all ourselves. To be our own courier, printer, door knocker, community manager, clerk, mail room assistant…. anything and everything which is possible to do ourselves. And this is one of the greatest false economies in startup land. A simple rule to circumvent such folly is this:

Never do a task which can be outsourced at a lower hourly rate than what the open market would pay you for that hour.

While it’s easy to argue that we aren’t actually paying ourselves the market rate, it is certainly true that we should be creating the value of our market rate. And this is usually at least double the pay rate. Hence a person earning $100 per hour, should be generating at least $200 per hour for their organisation. Every hour wasted doing a menial task, has more impact than we actually think. Let’s take this simple example:

If we work 60 hours a week for 50 weeks for 2 years and end up with an equity stake valued at $3 million our hourly rate comes out at $500.

Which doesn’t leave many tasks that are worth doing ourselves. Startup blog says value yourself in 2013!

twitter-follow-me13

Interview with Seth Godin

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on May 17, 2011

Great 7 minute interview with Seth Godin which is both insightful and inspirational on the new economy.

twitter-follow-me13

Top 10 dying industries

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 5, 2011

The good people at Ibis World just released a report on which industries are facing the biggest declines. You can probably guess a few of them, and the major culprit behind the decline is another mainstay of change: Technological Development. The numbers are from the US economy over the past decade, but I think it’s a fair representation of what is occurring in most first world developed economies.

So while you peruse the list, have a think about the incumbents and if they saw it coming or were in denial. Also have a think about where technology is taking us and if you can be a driving force behind flipping an existing industry on it’s head with your new startup! Enjoy.

1. Apparel Manufacturing

Has declined by 77% over the past decade. Simple reason. Cost of wages in labour intensive industry.

2. Music Stores

In the past decade almost 80% of all music stores have closed down in the USA. Sales recorded music sold on a physical transportable device (Tapes, CD’s, LP’s et al) have declined 76.3% in the past 10 years. The only chance for survival is to be very niche, like some ‘drive in cinemas’ have done. even cultural icons, like Tower Records below have succumbed to the inevitable. If you look closely at the pic below, you might even see the who was behind it all…

3. Manufactured Home Dealers

Declined by over 70% in the past decade. Who knew?

4. Photo development

Photo finishing faced a 69% decline, which digital photography is entirely responsible for. Facebook and Flickr are quickly replacing the photo album, and Kodak got caught napping as this happened. The truth is that 1 hour is still 59 minutes and  59 seconds slower than digital. The question is whether the increasing level of awesomeness of cameras in mobile phones will make stand alone digital cameras redundant?


5. Wired Communications

Wired telecoms declined by 54.9% since the year 2000. The evidence exists with how many people you know who’ve ‘turned off’ their fixed line connection. Long distance and overseas has equally been decimated by Skype which comes at peoples favourite price point – ‘free’ – with the added benefit of video. It’s pretty clear that I life without wires is better than a life with them.


6. Mills

Manufacturing suffered a 50% decrease. Seems they are closing all the factories down in Allan Town – as 23% have closed down since 2000. It’s a pretty simple formula here as reduced trade barriers and low wage markets have concocted this reality.


7. Newspaper Publishing

You’re reading this on-line, and you probably get most of your news the same way. Hence it isn’t a great surprise that newspaper publishing has declined 35.9% in the past decade. What’s really interesting is that most of us consume more news and content than ever before, we just get it in different places from different people. The problem with most publishers is that they confuse the delivery mechanism (the physical publishing) with why they actually exist. Granted, lower barriers to deliver any form information has made the old model almost impossible to maintain. I’d also argue that the pay walls being put up by Rupert Murdoch and the New York Times won’t cut it when valid substitutes are ‘free’.


8. DVD, Game & Video rental

A percentage decrease of 35.7% which is easy to see as local video & DVD rental stores close down. The on-line alternative is simply superior. Enough said.


9. Formal Wear & Costume rental

A curious one as this industry has declined by 35%. Most probably a combination of reduced prices for textiles in general and the casualisation of dress throughout society.


10. Video Post Production

With standard simple digital manipulation tools on our desk top, services of this nature have been hurt. They’ve declined by 24.9% in the past decade. Only the very high end have survived.

twitter-follow-me13

Blogs are a stadium

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 9, 2010

I was asked today about how blogs should be built and leveraged from a commercial perspective. It seems to be a regular question I’m asked. The giving element that is required in the blogosphere seems counter intuitive to the way our minds have been trained via the industrial complex. They often struggle with the fact that we just have to give, and the law of natural economics just kicks in. So I came up with this analogy which I think makes sense and explains how it should be approached philosophically.

Blogs are like a football stadium.

The game is played in the middle of the ground.

In blogs the middle of the ground happens to be where our posts are geographically placed.

This is why people come to our blog. To see the action. To learn from and be entertained by the actual game (posts)

But like all good stadiums we have related infrastructure around the edges. Our details, company, tweetstream, contacts.

If they like the game we play (our posts) they return. The crowd gets bigger, and they tell their friends to come.

Like the stadium the revenue comes from all the related elements like the concession stands, the parking and the sponsorship. The stuff that generally lives around the edges… both in stadiums and our blogs.

But we must never forget why they are here. To enjoy the game. They only ever return because the enjoy the game (the blog posts). So what we need to do is build our industry around the game, rather than charging for tickets at the gate. Charging entry just doesn’t work beause there is far too many games they can attend. (more than 200 million in fact)

So when someone asks you about how to make a blog work. Remind them of ‘stadium economics’ and that it’s the quality of the information and entertainment which earns us the right to sell them the occasional hot dog.

twitter-follow-me13

Economic irrationalist

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 16, 2010

Lately I’ve been making a few decisions which are economically irrational. Making decisions which are, on the face of it, financially inept.

For example, I starting to feel a sense of loyalty to my chief technology officer for rentoid.com

He’s not the cheapest and he’s not the best. Probably somewhere in the middle for both. I could probably get someone cheaper with similar skills, or better for the same price. But I don’t. In fact I tell him that I’m loyal to him. A large part of why I want  to succeed so that he can succeed also, to share it with him. Even though he has not risked the capital, or the time that I have on the project.

Why would I act this way. Well I like working with him. He’s a nice guy, and sometimes that’s enough.

I guess you could call me an Economic Irrrationalist. And it just feels right.

Self taught

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 10, 2010

With the exceptions of reading and writing, all of the most important things I know (and can do for that matter) have been 100% self taught.

Marketing, Public speaking, Entrepreneurship, Motivating others, Creative writing, Financial Investing, Surfing, Gardening / Growing vegetables, Weight training, Riding a bicycle…. everything.

I think the best way to learn is by paying attention and being curious. Which always leads me to observing others, reading and getting out there and having a go at things.

Observe, Read, Try. Repeat.

That’s it. I find that when the desire is there, the rest comes easy. Which is why I’ve always done much better at everything outside of my schooling. Things for which I had real desire. The unfortunate thing about this ingredient, is that it is removed from most of the development & selection programs in modern society. Instead, we say ‘Rote learn this’, then we might let you do something you care about. One great example is that Architecture University studies require physics as a prerequisite, and yet Architecture studies don’t involve physics, and architects never do the engineering function in building.

Startup blog advice: Don’t let a terrible system, reduce belief in your own capabilities. The stuff that kept you out, you didn’t really care about anyway. It was a rule built by someone else to protect themselves. If you forge ahead and teach yourself, the right people will notice. They will come searching for you because they understand not just the importance of what your know, but the value of how you went about learning it.

Web Economic Models

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 12, 2009

There are 3 major economic models we see  with web businesses.

Option 1. Create value, and take a small percentage of the value they create (ebay / amazon)

Option 2. Create value, and take nothing. The free model (twitter, youtube)

Option 3. Take more value (either from VC’s or customers) than the value they create.

Obviously option 3 is what we’d call unsustainable. There are many dot gone companies under this banner. Pets.com comes to mind as does Kozmo.com

Option 2 ends up selling advertising, or to another internet company with deep pockets – Facebook comes to mind. We are not Facebook, we will never be Facebook. We don’t have the page impressions, loyalty or any of the stuff needed to sell enough advertising, or sell the entire ship.

Startup blog advice is simple. If you want to have a web business, have a price for your service. Call me old fashioned, but it’s the simplest way to make a living on the web. Sure, we may have to provide more than what we sell – have an augmented product, but the economics of ‘free’ aren’t enough for ‘us’. Free might work for them…. But if we’ want to survive, we’ve got to sell something. If people wont buy what we sell, then we have 2 options.

(A) Improve what we offer

(B) Sell something different

But be sure of this, we need a price and giving stuff away is a quick way to go out of business.

twitter-follow-me3

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,164 other followers